People

Principal Investigator

Yi-Rong Peng, Ph.D
Assistant Professor, Department of Ophthalmology

Dr Peng is a neuroscientist whose research focuses on large-scale transcriptomic profiling of retinal cells in healthy and pathological conditions to understand human vision and provide insights for the study of ocular diseases. She joined the Jules Stein Eye Institute as an assistant professor in January 2020. Dr. Peng received her PhD in neurobiology from the Institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China.

Her doctoral research examined the role of functional interactions between inhibitory and excitatory synapses that maintain the stability of neural networks. She then joined the laboratory of Dr. Joshua Sanes at Harvard University. In her postdoctoral work, she utilized high throughput single-cell transcriptomic methods to reveal molecular profiles of the retina and uncover key transcriptional factors that control the specification of retinal cell types.

Post-Doctoral Fellows

Lin Zhang, Ph.D.

Lin is a bioinformatician who is interested to apply bioinformatic tools to uncover the molecular underpinning of the formation of retinal circuits and provide the pathogenic understanding of retinal diseases. Her research involves analysis of genomic and transcriptomic datasets, data mining, computational modeling of large-scale datasets, and molecular and cellular biology. She joined the Peng Laboratory in October 2020. Lin received her PhD from Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Michelmore lab, Genome Center, University of California, Davis.

Undergraduate Students

Ali Pahlevan


Ali is a fourth-year undergraduate studying Cognitive Science and Biomedical Research. His research in the Peng Lab focuses on analyzing gene expression in retinal cell types. He plans on continuing research after graduation before entering Medical School. 

Brian Chen

Brian is a 4th year undergraduate biochemistry student at UCLA, interested in exploring a career in clinical research and healthcare. Having explored other fields including ecological restoration and computational chemistry labs at UCSB, he soon found his niche in a position with the Peng Lab, where he enjoys learning more about retinal pathways that can be used to study various ocular diseases. In his free time, he likes to spend his time playing pick-up basketball at the rec cen (which hopefully opens soon) as well as explore the venues of the city of Los Angeles.

Raneesh Ramarapu

Jessica Tran

Jessica Tran is a second year undergraduate student studying Psychobiology. She has a strong interest in pursuing a career in healthcare. In the Peng Lab, she is planning to study retinal pathology. She is also immersed in the Southeast Asian community at UCLA through the Vietnamese Community Health club and Southeast Asian Admit Weekend program. In her free time, she enjoy baking, playing the piano, and going on picnics

Visiting Postdoctoral Scholar

Tongzhou Xu, Ph.D.

Lab Assistant

Ruchen Cai